I purchased your Online Housebreaking Course and did everything the last 5 days but my adopted 1 year old dog won’t potty outside. I can’t reward her because she literally won’t pee (or poo) outside. She sleeps well in a crate in my room but it is challenging because I live in an upstairs apartment. I trained her to go on the balcony but she won’t go outside, even though we go on long walks and to the dog park. 

When I have to leave the house, it sounds like from your video, the garage is the best place? But there is no fresh air in there and there are a couple days a week that I am gone for more than eight hours. Please advise.


Upstairs Apartment Dweller 


There are actually two questions here. 1) How to get your dog to go potty outdoors and 2) How to leave your dog home alone. Let’s look at each of these questions one at a time. 

Getting Your Dog To Go Potty Outside

The solution to this problem might take a minute, so prepare yourself to be patient. Once dogs have developed a strongly conditioned potty preference, such as going indoors on pee pads, it can sometimes take weeks or months to undo it. In other words, 5 days is not nearly enough time. I have covered a similar question in an article on weaning pups off of potty pads, which is included in the Online Housebreaking Course materials, so I won’t repeat all of those details here. That article is probably worth a read but this particular situation sounds like it may be as simple as spending an entire day outdoors with your dog, or however long it takes for her to finally go potty outdoors. Half the day will likely end up being enough. For example: Our recently adopted dog, Abbey, doesn’t like to go potty on walks. She prefers the backyard but if I take her for a long walk, like at least a couple of hours, she will go potty. The first time, however, I had to walk her for 4 ½ hours until the dam finally broke. You will need to find out how long it takes for your dog. 

If you start your outing first thing in the morning, when her tank is full from sleeping all night, my guess is that it will only take a couple of hours. On the other hand, some cases are more extreme. For example: I had clients whose dog would never go potty on walks and would just wait until he got home and go in the backyard. This wasn’t a problem until they decided to take the dog on a long camping trip. That’s when they realized it was a problem. That dog didn’t relieve himself for three whole days! Yikes! Poor thing, he must have been in major bladder pain. That’s an unusually long amount of time though, it is normally a matter of hours rather than days. In the meantime, we still need to leave the dog home alone, don’t we? Ok, now let’s tackle that question. 

Leaving Your Dog Home Alone For Long Periods of Time. 

In the Online Housebreaking Course I had suggested the garage simply because, when a yard is not available, it is better than the dog relieving themself in the house. The lack of fresh air is probably really more of a temperature problem than a fresh air problem, right? Most garages are not airtight, so fresh air is generally not an issue. The issue is that most garages are not well insulated, which is an issue in certain climates but, in moderate climates, the garage can be a great option. Anyhow, let’s just assume that the garage is not going to work. 

Even after you get her to go potty outside, your upstairs apartment dog won’t have access to the outside when left home alone, so she will either need to hold it all day or have access to an indoor potty area, right? Some dogs actually will hold it all day but it probably gets painful at times and a lot of dogs just can’t or won’t do it, so I would highly recommend an indoor potty setup of some sort. Some set up options were covered in the Online Housebreaking Course and in the Puppy Prepper article, which is included with the course study materials, so I won’t go into a ton of detail here. Basically, you need a substrate that the dog can go potty on that won’t harm your floors and the dog needs to be taught to use it. Assuming the dog in question already uses potty pads or some sort of potty system on the balcony, I would simply start off by using the same thing in the house. Ultimately, going back to the previous question about going outside, I would recommend an indoor potty set up that mimics the outdoors such as a sod box or a box filled with dirt or gravel or something of that sort. There are various such things on the market or you can just make one yourself. 

Ideally, since she is already trained to go on the balcony, a doggie door to the balcony would be the simplest solution. However, since it’s an apartment, they may not allow that. What the heck, it wouldn’t hurt to ask the apartment manager, would it? You know what they say, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” 

If the doggie door to the balcony is not possible, I would recommend putting a long term confinement area and indoor potty spot near the door that exits the apartment. That way, once she starts going potty outside, she will also have learned to target the spot near the door. Do you see where this is going? Now, when you are home and she starts to go to her potty spot, which is near the exit, you can quickly guide her out the door and viola, both problems have now been solved. 

But, but, but, but….I still have questions. 

There could be a lot of variations in the tiny details that lead to a lot of “but what about ____” questions. Feel free to send me your questions and maybe I’ll use them for another Q & A article but, if you grasp the general theme, you can probably figure out how to make adjustments to your particular situation. Some details will vary depending on how old the puppy/dog is, how well trained to use an indoor potty spot the dog is, whether or not you are past the destructive chewing phase, whether or not the dog has Separation Anxiety, etc. Some dogs may be able to have free run of the house while you are gone, others may need to be kept in a long term confinement area, it really depends on where you are in the whole housebreaking process. Generally speaking, dogs under the age of two years can not be trusted loose in the house while you are away because they are still having some chewing problems. 

I am pretty sure most of this is covered in the seminar you purchased, so please be sure to watch the whole thing, taking notes along the way and don’t forget to take the quiz to be sure you absorbed all the material. 90% of the time, the questions people ask me were already answered in the seminar, so please, don’t be afraid to watch it more than once. 

Happy Housebreaking!

Chad Culp – Certified Dog Trainer, Canine Behavior Consultant, Owner of Thriving Canine. 

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